Sheikh Mansour attending the Arab League Summit in Jeddah. Image Credit: AFP

Jeddah: Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice-President, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Presidential Court, has voiced the UAE’s unwavering support for initiatives promoting stability and peace in the region.

Speaking at the 32nd Arab Summit held in Jeddah, Sheikh Mansour emphasised the significance of cooperation as the most effective means to ensure progress and prosperity in the Arab world.

Expressing gratitude and appreciation, Sheikh Mansour extended his thanks to King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, as well as Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the Crown Prince, for their warm hospitality and meticulous preparations for the summit.

Sheikh Mansour acknowledged the efforts of Algeria as the previous president of Arab summits and commended the Secretariat-General of the Arab League for their diligent preparations for the event.

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Despite the challenges faced by the region, Sheikh Mansour highlighted the presence of hopeful developments that could potentially lead to the resolution of local conflicts. He stressed the importance of building upon these achievements.

Sheikh Mansour during his meeting with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky in Jeddah. Image Credit: AFP

Sheikh Mansour extended his congratulations to Syria for its reintegration into the community of friendly nations at the summit.

He expressed hope for the country to overcome its current difficulties and attain stability and prosperity.

Calling upon Arab countries to seize the opportunities presented by positive developments, Sheikh Mansour urged them to strengthen their cooperation and forge economic and developmental partnerships.

Sheikh Mansour also urged the people of Sudan to engage in dialogue and seek compromise as a means to overcome the crisis in their country.

He expressed gratitude for Saudi Arabia’s facilitation of talks in Sudan, which played a crucial role in resolving the political deadlock.

Warm welcome to Bashar Al Assad

As leaders walked into the main hall for the summit earlier, Syrian President Bashar Al Assad exchanged greetings with Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi, and before the opening ceremony he met Tunisia's president and Sheikh Mansour.

"I would like to loudly welcome Syria back to its seat among its brothers," Algerian Prime Minister Ayman Benabderrahmane said in the opening speech of the summit.

"We are pleased today by the attendance of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in this summit," Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman said in his remarks, adding he hoped the return would lead to "stability" in Syria.

Crown Prince Mohammed said he hoped Syria's "return to the Arab League leads to the end of its crisis."

Saudi Arabia would "not allow our region to turn into a field of conflicts", he said, saying the page had been turned on "painful years of struggle".

Saudi Crown Prince with Sheikh Mansour in Jeddah. Image Credit: AFP

Saudi Crown Prince firmly affirmed the Arab world’s commitment to preventing the region from becoming a zone of conflict. The Crown Prince also reassured both Eastern and Western nations of their continued peaceful trajectory.

In his presidential speech, Prince Mohammad expressed the Arab region’s exhaustion with conflicts, reflecting on the years of strife that have inhibited development and caused widespread suffering. He underlined the Arab world’s rich cultural, human, and natural resources, emphasising the potential to occupy a leading position and achieve prosperity across all sectors.

The Palestinian cause remains central to the Arab world, Crown Prince Mohammad emphasised. He further addressed the crisis in Sudan, hoping for resolution through dialogue, while celebrating the signing of the Jeddah Declaration by both parties involved in the Sudanese conflict.

Prince Mohammad also addressed the crisis in Ukraine, stressing the necessity of peaceful resolution and reaffirming Saudi Arabia’s commitment to supporting efforts to alleviate the crisis intensity. The Kingdom declared its readiness to continue mediating between the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

Al Assad and Crown Prince Mohammad met after the summit, and Al Assad "praised the efforts exerted by Saudi Arabia to achieve Arab rapprochement", Syria's official SANA news agency reported.

Al Assad at the summit. Image Credit: AFP

Al Assad urges Arab League changes to prevent meddling

Earlier, Al Assad has stressed the need for systemic and procedural changes in the Arab League to prevent foreign interference in regional affairs and to boost intra-Arab ties.

A triumphant Al Assad called for a "new phase" in regional cooperation in his remarks to the summit, which also featured a surprise appearance by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Al Assad highlighted this summit as a “historic opportunity” for the Arab League to tackle numerous regional crises and initiate new strategies, mechanisms, and common goals that could lay the groundwork for future joint Arab initiatives.

“The Arab League should develop new strategies and mechanisms to establish future plans for joint Arab action. We are facing a historic opportunity to rearrange our situation,” Al Assad said, buoyed by the recent rapprochement within the Arab world and the dawn of a new phase of collective action.

Al Assad also expressed his gratitude to King Salman for his pivotal role in facilitating Arab reconciliation. He also appreciated the Arab leaders and delegations for Syria’s warm welcome back into the Arab League.

This is Al Assad’s first address to the Arab League since Syria’s suspension from the bloc in 2011, following the Syrian government’s harsh response to protests against his rule.

The 32nd Arab League summit began on Friday with Algerian Prime Minister Ayman Benabderrahmane delivering the inaugural address.

Following his remarks, the rotating presidency of the Arab League was transferred to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Benabderrahmane addressed the pressing issues of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the recent conflict in Sudan during his speech, emphasizing the importance of the international community’s intervention to address these challenges effectively. Specifically, he highlighted the urgent need to halt the Israeli policy of settlement expansion in order to promote peace and stability in the region.

Additionally, Benabderrahmane urged all parties involved in the Sudanese crisis to prioritise dialogue as a means to resolve the ongoing conflict and prevent any further escalation. By advocating for peaceful negotiations, he underscored the significance of finding a diplomatic solution that can bring about lasting peace and alleviate the suffering of the people in the conflict-ridden country.

Zelensky, addressing the summit. Image Credit: Reuters

Zelensky thanks Riyadh

Addressing the summit, Zelensky, who wants to build support for Kyiv's battle against Russian attacks, asked the delegates to support Ukraine's formula for peace and thanked Riyadh for its role in mediating a prisoner release last year.

In a letter to the summit, President Vladimir Putin said Russia attached "great importance to the development of friendly relations and constructive partnership" with regional states.

Gulf states have tried to remain neutral in the Ukraine conflict despite Western pressure on Gulf oil producers to help isolate Russia, a fellow OPEC+ member.

Arab leaders attending included Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.